The Kenai Peninsula Borough will be stepping in to fund a state dispatch position at the Soldotna Public Safety Communications Center. An ordinance appropriating $111,869.20 to fund the former state position passed at the Sept. 15 borough assembly meeting.
The dispatch center is already “seriously short-staffed,” according to a Sept. 1 memo from borough finance director Brandi Harbaugh and Lisa Kosto, the 911 senior manager, to the assembly.
In August, one state dispatcher left their employment, and the state has notified the borough that they don’t intend to fill that position until Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s working group, the 9-1-1 and Dispatch Consolidation Working Group, concludes.
The vacancy “has resulted in a shortage of five personnel” at the dispatch center, according to the ordinance. The vacancy needs to be filled “promptly,” the ordinance said, and would be in the borough’s “best interests.”
The center is normally staffed with 14 dispatchers and four supervisors, but currently, the center is short five positions, including four people who are in training, and the new vacancy. Under the current agreement between the state and the borough, the state is required to provide seven dispatchers and at least one shift supervisor, and the borough is required to provide six dispatchers, three supervisors, the dispatch center manager and one 911 IT specialist, the ordinance said. The borough gave notice to terminate this agreement, effective July 1, 2021.
The ordinance said the borough expects the state to issue a full reimbursement for the cost of the dispatcher.
• By Victoria Petersen, For the Peninsula Clarion